'American Idol' season 9 tour: Newark, we have a problem

american-idol-concertImage Credit: Robert E. Klein/AP ImagesFor an American Idol junkie like myself, the annual “Idols Live!” concert tour is typically a perfectly timed dessert soufflé; served a good month or two after the overwhelming smorgasbord of the preceding Idol season, it provides a chance to see how the top 10 finishers fare when they’re out from under the pressure of Simon Cowell’s critiques, that notoriously grueling weekly TV schedule, and the inscrutable voting whims of the public. Last night’s season 9 showcase from the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, however, failed to follow that sweet script. To be fair, a few contestants achieved frothy new heights, but the bulk of the show had the distinctive whiff of a piece of cake that’s been lingering in the back of the fridge since late May.

The current crop of touring Idols could take a few cues from Aaron Kelly, one of the few performers who seemed to understand that when your set lasts all of three songs, you’d best kick things off with something that’s high octane and stylistically comfortable. His take on Keith Urban’s “Somebody Like You” — easily the night’s most energetic number — was an unexpected jolt: Not only has Aaron shaken off the intermittent pitch problems that plagued him during his Idol run, but he also proved he’s got a big enough voice and has developed strong enough showmanship skills to fill a stage as big as the Prudential’s. Aaron displayed impressive bombast, too, on Rascal Flatts’ “Fast Cars and Freedom.” His only misstep, in fact, came during during his serviceable take on “Walking in Memphis,” when he chose a background projection of Elvis Presley on horseback and in a swimming pool. When you’re coming off a fifth-place finish on a reality singing competition, it’s best to not make the audience choose between you and The King of Rock n’ Roll, even if the latter is rendered in grainy home-video footage.

The night’s other highlight was runner-up Crystal Bowersox, who performed with the same delightful ease and energy she displayed early in her season 9 run, particularly in those winning Hollywood Week clips on “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “If It Makes You Happy.” If anything, Crystal’s vocals were more robust last night than ever: her set-opening cover of 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up” was powerful enough to rock the cheap seats, and her full-length version of Melissa Etheridge’s “Come to My Window,” including a fine harmonica intro, packed a much stronger punch than the truncated version she rolled out on Idol. The only misstep of her four-song set, in fact, was her decision to lay down her guitar on Patti Griffin’s “Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)”; with not even a mic to hold onto, Crystal’s hands alternated between two modes: “frenetic Gospel fervor” and “what happened to my instrument?” Still, by the time she ended with a ferocious “Piece of My Heart,” it wasn’t hard to imagine Crystal filling the same space with a solo tour this time next year.

I’m not sure I can say that for anyone else who performed last night, although sixth-place Siobhan Magnus might have a shot if she learns to harness her wayward energy. The creepy music box intro and Tim Burton-esque fonts that signaled the start of her set were an absolute hoot, and her magnificently ridiculous glory note on “Paint It Black” was the equivalent of a circus performer balancing on a chair on top of a bicycle perched on a tightrope; the audience gasped and giggled at the audacity of it all, but whether or not it added anything emotionally to the Rolling Stones’ classic is up for debate. Siobhan looked most at home on Muse’s “Stockholm Syndrome,” where her mournfully expressive howl and enthusiastic head-banging blended rather beautifully with the blasting guitars and projections that looked like pop-art dental x-rays. The same cannot be said for her ho-hum offering of No Doubt’s “Spiderwebs,” during which only four or five words were intelligible.

The four contestants who finished behind Siobhan during their Idol tenures — in order: Tim Urban, Katie Stevens, Andrew Garcia, and Didi Benami — had the unenviable task of trying to make their marks with only two songs to perform. Tim bantered affably with the audience throughout his cover of Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida,” as if he couldn’t believe his good fortune, but his choice of the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Better Days” was inscrutable. Watching him stumble backward on the final note of the song, acoustic guitar slung over his back like an overweight bookbag, you had to marvel at why he’d choose a ditty that stretches his voice to the breaking point (and led to his Idol ouster). Katie, at least, was able to color comfortably within the lines of Demi Lovato’s “Here We Go Again” and Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter,” even if she wound up getting upstaged by the brute force of her hair extensions. Didi, in the lead-off spot, struggled to ignite the crowd, though that probably had as much to do with tackling a pair of obscure midtempo tracks — the Rescue’s “Lay It on Me” and Katharine McPhee’s “Terrified” (which she memorably nailed during Hollywood Week) — than with her lilting, second-stage delivery. (Side note: I maintain my belief that Didi could be a viable recording artist, but last night, she was like a piece of plankton in the whale’s mouth of the Prudential Center stage.) And lastly, Andrew proved his rep as a YouTube cover artist with middling renditions of “Straight Up” and “Sunday Morning” that set my attention drifting like a helium balloon on a windy day.

On that note, let’s switch gears and talk about the three guys who, along with Crystal, occupied the post-intermission performance slots:

Michael Lynche’s cover of “This Woman’s Work” remains polarizing as it did on Idol. Depending on your world view, it’s either unrelentingly cheesy or undeniably moving, although the fact that he now ends the performance on his knees is, by my count, a pretty compelling case for the former camp. India.Arie’s “Ready for Love” was performed with guitar in hand, and hat brim dipped low. And while Michael has to be commended for breaking out of his strong-and-sensitive-ballad mode at the end of his set, that cannot excuse the way he surgically extracted every last cell of cool from Justin Timberlake’s “My Love.” “We’ll see you next year!” the burly personal trainer shouted as he left the stage, the unintentional threat of having to endure a repeat performance hanging heavy in the air.

Following Michael’s thudding failure to rap, Casey James was almost guaranteed to impress, and he did exactly that using a succession of guitars, particularly with the aggressive blast of the Black Keys’ “I Got Mine” and a southern-fried jam session on the Rolling Stones “It’s All Over Now.” That said, the low-key Texan’s vocals made about as much of an impression as fingerprints on a beige wall. You get the sense that Casey is one of those contestants who’ll desperately need to join a band if he’s going to have a chance to succeed in a post-Idol world. Maybe, somewhere down the road, there’s a future mashing up Bo Bice on vocals and guitar, Casey on lead guitar, and Matt Giraud on vocals and piano? Crazier things have happened, people. Lest you forget, Constantine Maroulis is now a Tony Award nominee.

And then there’s season 9 champ Lee DeWyze, who two months after his coronation, still possesses the wide-eyed gosh-ness of someone who pinches himself backstage every night to confirm that, yeah, the crowd is cheering for him. (“You guys are amazing!” he yelled at the end of his first song, his voice cracking with astonishment.) While that shtick worked just fine in the context of a reality competition, it proved to be something of a strange fit for the headliner of a major national tour. Lee needs to learn — and quickly — the difference between showing appreciation for the fans that voted him to the Idol title and acting like he can hardly believe they’ve shelled out their hard earned money to listen to him sing.

The highlight of Lee’s set, hands down, was his opening cover of U2’s “Beautiful Day,” which might surprise Idol fans who recall his borderline disastrous by-the-numbers rendition during the season 9 finale. Last night, though, Lee put his own twist on the track; the slowed-down intro was reminiscent of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin,” and his sweet/gruff/ambling vocal was like a mashup of Jack Johnson, Counting Crows, and Dave Matthews. “Rocket Man,” the other song that, on paper, should be a colossal flop, provided Lee with a similarly winning moment: When you interpret the lyrics about a swift, sudden, and sometimes lonely trajectory to fame instead of space, it’s not hard to understand why.

On the flip side, though, the songs that you would have expected to be better fits for the Idol champ — Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and the Cornelius Brothers’ “Treat Her Like a Lady” (both of which he performed to rave reviews on the show) and Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody” (which, as Randy Jackson might say, is in Lee’s “wheelhouse”)  — were ultimately torpedoed by Lee’s tendency to confuse emotion with screaming. The juxtaposition of Lee’s vein-popping delivery and his “I love you guys!” shout-outs to the audience was jarring, to say the least. At some point in his short, strange journey to possible pop stardom, Lee needs to come back to Earth and remember that it’s emotional connection, not volume-over-everything vocal projection, that will keep his star in orbit.

Have you caught the season 9 Idols on tour this summer? If so, which singers did you enjoy most? Who left you disappointed? Share your thoughts in the comments, and to get all my Idol updates, follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak.

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
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Taio Cruz’s fiery “Dynamite” video
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Taylor Swift announces new album, Speak Now, will drop Oct. 25
‘Nothin’ on You’ and ‘Billionaire’ producer Bruno Mars releases debut solo single: Hear it here

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  • bob

    I commend you Michael for having the stomach to sit through that. I bet after wards you had a gin and tonic and called it a night, right?

    • Petra

      My belief is that pervasive negativity of the judges this season and some side efforts by disgruntled Adam Lambert spinning the media – led to an impression that the Top 10 were untalented with no appeal or future.

      I disagree, I don’t like Crystal’s music, but she is definitely a polished artist with appeal to some. Lee can make commercial music. Casey is the only one that was making a true full-time living at it prior to Idol, and is ALREADY marketable as the finest instrumentalist to be on Idol, and that includes Daughtry, Bice, and Cook’s skills.
      I also think the 3 teen contestants – Aaron, Siobhan, and Katie (people forget Siobhan was a 19-year old with just summer band experience and amateur stage when she auditioned) – those three match up well against the “teen compliment” in any season.

      Siobhan Magnus has most elements and attributes one would associate with a real shot at success with her already. Stage, music, or film. Plays, composes, songwrites. Has creativity and style.
      Magnus does need polishing, and could benefit from being signed by a creative management team – but I see her not fading into post-Idol obscurity. Just too unique, talented, too likable a personality, and too good-looking to not have some success somewhere after Idol.

      Katie is getting better every show.

      Along with Siobhan, Aaron Kelly is now on the radar of those outside Top 3 with a real shot. Aaron is most improved. Aaron just might get his own development deal.

      I doubt Slezak needed a gin and tonic. Only the judges regularly sabotaged the contestants by signalling they thought getting paid millions to sit in their chairs was an unpleasant, boring job to endure. (With Cowell as lead Idol saboteur)

      • Moser

        Wow. Blaming Lambert in any way for this season being terrible is actually hilarious.

      • TLKC

        Well I watched most of the season and I don’t need anybody to spin me how mediocre, with a couple of exceptions, this team was.

      • Carrie

        A disgruntled Adam Lambert? LOL. What are you smoking?

      • Skylar

        Disgruntled Adam Lambert? Now why would Adam be disgruntled? He is doing much better touring than most other artist this summer. Has 2 top 40 hits, etc.

      • Anne

        omg! Did you attend the tour at all? Or are these your comments from the TV show? Adam was lovely when he mentored, tried to get the juices flowing, but in a positive way, only said positive things later?? I enjoyed the last 2 tours, but skipping this one unless I get really cheap or free tix. I’d like to see Didi but not as an opener, loved her. I am sick that Lily didn’t make the tour. I would go only to see Crystal, really. I didn’t even watch Idolatry this year I was so sickened by the voting. And the judges are crap. Last year we even waited by the bus for hours and got interviewed by Jambajim from MTV!

      • Alex_Q

        Yep, although I’m sure you meant it’s disgruntled Adam fans. They way they stank up other American Idol forums with their mindless trashing of season 9, some of them quite moronic and really verging on the pathological. The same is true of some Kris’ fans, perhaps not wanting him to be the worst performing Idol winner ever, kept making endless attack on Lee.

        There is really no doubt some of the Idol journalists who were fans of Season 8 are responsible for the lack of buzz. Jim Cantiello for example who fawns on Kris (are they having an affair?) for one for example. Lyndsey Parker the Adam fan another. You can tell their complete lack of interest when they do interview Lee for example.

      • Petra

        Yes, Alex_Q, I meant Adams fans. My fault for dropping the “fans” part and slamming Adam – who is a far better person thanmost his worshippers.
        The Gayberts or Glamberts, depending on the rationale for being rabid Lambert fans, got unhinged after he lost. They litter the Idol blogs that I see, trashing Kris Allen any chance they get, even a year later. I’m sure they are at it on other Forums I don’t go to.
        I guess bashing Kris Allen only goes so far, so we saw all the slavering “Adam is God” posts directed against all S9 contestants as unworthy to be on the same stage as their Magnificent One.
        And they are also trashing other Idol seasons better performers saying all or almost all, lack the genius and talent of “Our Adam”.

        It gets wearisome. Tedious. Especially since he way the Top 3 and Finale played out, Kris Allen sharply elevated his work. Gay and gla fanatics may disagree, but Kris Allen sang crazy good stuff at the end and sang so well that last minute efforts by Kara and Cowell to sabotage Allen on song selection forced on him didn’t matter…people just liked him over The Great Gay One.

        I have more sympathy for Clay Aiken fans, who have a better case that their guy was screwed in an improper vote count.

      • sara

        Petra, most Adam fans that I know aren’t Idol fans, nor did they care about S9 at all. Also, to assume that it’s fans of Adam that are knocking S9 is pretty bizarre. Did you read any of the press coverage of this season? Did you hear about tour cancellations? Yeah, nothing to do with Adam. Go stan for your favorite and lay off fans of other artists.

      • Cathy

        Sorry….we disgruntled Adam Lambert fans did not do anything to bring around the opinion that Season 9 was the worst season of American Idol ever. We didn’t have to. These contestants did to themselves. This was a group of people trying to win a singing/performance contest. Most of them could not carry a tune (including the winner) and could not move away from the microphone. There performances were boring. I cannot think of one wow performance for this season.

      • MsWrite

        Yeah, L.O.L. I know TONS of Adam fans and many, many, didn’t watch any of Idol last year and some of us did, passively (I’m on the West Coast and read spoilers, so I already knew what happened by the time it came on). I don’t know anyone who had the slightest interest passive or otherwise to comment on a board, especially to run down other contestants. Some may have commented, but did to root on their favorites like any other season. I know several Adam fans that are also Casey, Crystal and Lee fans.

        Stanning Adam and reveling in his positivity keeps our days plenty full. I don’t know anyone who has the desire or inclination to go to a board and run other Idols down. Sorry, the failure of last season rests purely on the failure of the casting and production. They just did NOT to a good job and yes, the stark contrast that was the exceptionality of Season 8, particularly Adam, only accentuates the fail of Season 9.

      • Megan

        Hi, Petra – thanks for the laugh :-) That was hilarious!

      • Megan

        And follow up, what drugs are you taking?

      • Bear

        Oh please. Stop acting like the majority of Adam’s fans were oblivious to S8 and were somehow sucked into his ‘glory’ on the strength of…what? His AMA performance? What a joke. I realize some of you know what a$$holes your fellow fan friends are, but the fandom as a whole will never be able to separate itself from the comprehensively evil nonsense that followed Adam’s loss.

      • Sally in Chicago

        Wow Petra – need a life much? Sorry, but your analysis of Season 9 is just so far off the mark it’s not even funny. And to go a step further and imply that gay people who like Adam Lambert are the cause for a dreary Season 9 is just, well, laughhable. Go back and read the news honey – nobody was impressed with this last season of Idol – be they Adam fans, Kris fans, Allison fans, or Gokey fans it matters not – they all came up short including Siobhan and Lee. And let’s just settle this – Adams fans are no worse than Kris’ fans who are no worse than Gokey’s fans who are no worse than Claymates who are no worse than those super annoying Arch-angels or whatever they call themselves. Each season it just gets worse and worse and worse and it matters not. Most of Lamberts fans have moved on and are following him around the country the same as Cook’s fans or Fantasia’s fans. It sounds like you are the one that just can’t get over it.

      • RR3

        we’re not watching this year Idol tour season 9….not one concert
        Michael tried to give compliments to subpar singers…difficult job to be positive when even the winner is terrible…his note on Casey is spot on…he’s a great musician…not vocalist…

      • Jess

        People can think for themselves and make their own decisions on what they feel is good, bad or mediocre. Not everyone lets other people spoon-feed them their opinions. Blaming the judges, Adam or anyone else for this group’s inability to shine is silly.

      • oh please

        @Jess. It is completely the American Idol workers faults. And the judges suck except for Randy.

      • jt.

        WTF!?
        I came here to read about SEASON 9! I don’t get it? Why is it always people who claim to dislike Lambert are always the first 2 bring him up..like always?????? None of his fans brought him up you Petra or whatever did. I was on 2 other articles here, that had nothing absolutely nothing 2 do with lambert and not even American Idol and some haters managed to bring him up in a the comments then too? I don’t get that? I truly honestly do not get it. I never seen so much focus and interest on somebody that people don’t prefer ..love yeah I can see, he seems to get a lot of that too, but people who claim to to dislike, seem fixated, who brings up a person they dislike in posts that have nothing to do with them?
        I mean i see this a lot.If I don’t like ya i do not bother with ya or about ya, too much energy wasted.

        It does seem most his fans have moved on, you people need to 2. jeeeeez.

        by the way I like casey!
        crystals okay and lee is growing on me.
        feel sorry for big mike, not a lotta love 4 him by anybody ever.

      • Megan

        Bear….are you sure you want to use the words “sucked” and “AMA performance” in the same paragraph about Adam?

        Just sayin’

    • MNCyn

      I think Michael wrote the review before he saw the concert; just filled in a few adjectives afterwards.

      • TP

        Sorry to dissapoint u, he was at the same concert I was. To be honest the show was pretty good!! I was surprised to be honest, all of them were better in person than on TV. I am a Crystal fan so I wont go on about her or dis any of the others. Just thought the show was worht seeing, all different age brackets made it even better!

    • Laurie

      Actually Michael seemed to try to hide compliments for everyone in his over the top review. He sounds like a child who just found out that the world he has dedicated himself to report on and spend his life on might just be about people trying to make the best of the talent they have.

  • Logistics

    This doesn’t surprise me. Not even the part about Aaron. He has agreat voice, and seems like he could be a good showman.

    THe 5th place spot seems to be a beacon for excellence. Brooke, Matt, now Aaron… all excellent

    • Brianna

      Siobhan Magnus rocked the tour!!!! I am so happy for her. So much incredible energy and effort. Her vocal range is awesome. I hope that she ends up accomplishing a lot more amazing experiences in her life. She is a very genuine girl and also a very true Musician at heart.

      • Elana

        I agree with you 100% Brianna!

      • Jennifer

        She’s strange and likeable, but she needs to reign it in and make a cohesive statement. It seems that all of them are misfits who are missing something that would make them into actual artists.

      • Petra

        Agree with Jennifer AND Brianna.

        Siobhan is the most interesting and likable one, to me, of contestants this year. Maybe up there with some of past season’s standout best female notables in terms of raw singing talent (and Crystal is no slouch, either).

        I suspect the discussions of reigning it in and getting cohesive on the creative heart of who she wants to put out in music Siobhan Magus really is – wil be part of her discussion with agencies that may wish to take her on.
        Good news is Magnus does not appear to be a total diva wannabe who doesn’t listen to others. But takes convincing. And once convinced, she by reports on Idol worked her butt off to do a performance and recording as hashed out and agreed to between her and producer’s staff.

        Like Aaron, Magnus is very new to it. Stage, then two summers head-banging it with a local alt-metal band.
        I think Aaron actually had the smarter set between he and Magnus, but they were the U-tube highlights of the contestants I saw (I didn’t see Didi or Andrew, and avoided BMs contribution)

  • LOL

    No one cares about this crap.

    • CarolLeslie

      Why are you reading it?

      • Ryan

        Anyone who would pay actual money to see this steaming garbage needs to be Tasered. That’s truly sickening.

    • jaded

      Apparently you care enough to click on the article and comment on it. Tool!

      • shuki

        Ryan: watch the video clips of the tour, these singers are quite talented. Calling it a “steaming pile of garbage” without knowing a thing is downright moronic.

    • LOL

      You idiots are so easy.

  • Laura

    Too busy keeping an eye out for a Kris Allen near me, and going to see Glamnation for Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta to go see Season 9, all of whom are distant cousins to the brilliance of Season 8 performances.

    • Barry

      Adam “I wish I was as Talented as Boy George” Lambert?

      • Marcus

        More like Adam “One Of The Only Summer Tours Not Cancelling Shows Left And Right” Lambert.

      • Cindy

        Exactly. Lambert is actually ADDING shows. I do feel sorry for Kris Allen though.

      • mjh

        Boy George has got nothing on Adam. That dude never did a thing for me, maybe one song I liked, but I can’t remember wht it was. Adam on the other hand ROCKS!

      • Martine

        cindy, Kris has a jam packed schedule.. he doesn’t need any pity !

      • Petra

        Marcus – “More like Adam “One Of The Only Summer Tours Not Cancelling Shows Left And Right” Lambert.”
        ————-
        More like start small in tents, and if the gays deliver as rabid fans like the Gay-kens did for Clay, add shows.
        Even in a bad economy, gays still tend to have plenty of discretionary dollars, while families and younger people and elderly tend to have far tighter budgets.

        No real diss of Adam, who is pretty good in small doses. I do have a problem with the Gayberts or Glamberts who have gone on a foppish jihad since Lambert didn’t win against KrisAllen, past winners, then ragged on Season 9 singers as nothings – compared to their makeup-laden Superstar. It does get old.

      • Taylor

        Petra, these “small tents” that Adam & Allison are playing contain approximately 3,000 seats — and most of the shows are selling out, with more being added. You don’t have to like Adam, his fans, or gay people in general, but don’t puke out lies.

      • Cathy

        Actually Martine Kris cannot fill 800 people venues on his own. The only packed houses he is playing two is when he is the opening act.

      • Nanette

        Barry oh tisk tisk letting your ignorance show. Obviously you have not see adam live. Do yourself a favor drop the pre-conceived notions and go. You will be entertained and amazed.

      • OMGq

        Jeeze Petra – stereo-type much? As a gay person I can assure you that I suffer the same way in a bad economy as anyone else. Your preconceived notions are homophobic and out-dated at best. At worst you seem like a complete dolt who has no clue about the stuff you are spewing. Not all of Adam’s fans are gay – in fact, my boss is a 26 year old woman who adores Adam and has seen his concert twice already. Oh, and my aunt & uncle who are in their late 40’s with 3 kids have taken their 2 oldest kids to his shows in PA and TN and are planning on taking them in SF as well. So before you speak out and act as if you know what you are talking about you may want to do some research.

      • whatever

        Hopefully Kris is doing better with his music because last year he was just so boring.

  • whyohwhy

    Aaron’s pre-Idol performances on YouTube were impressive, so it was surprising how bad he was on Idol. However, he’s a very good fit for the country genre (much better than Gokey) and if a label picks him up, I think he could do really well. The rest…meh.

  • Fan

    At least you made it through this alive…I would never pay good money to see this. I was considering it for Siobhan, but even that didn’t push me.

    • Rob

      Ditto. I’d pay it for Siobhan that’s about it. The ability to harmonize with people you have little in common with while also resisting the machinations of the 25 people simultaneously put in charge of managing the Top 9 interests me not at all.

  • Tyler

    I’m amazed you actually went to this show. Did you pay full price or get the $10 tickets? I still can’t believe out of tune and boring Lee won the season, and from your review it seems he hasn’t improved. Hopefully next season will have better contestants.

  • MK

    LOVE

  • AK

    I appreciate your honest commentary but this whole review comes off as too cool for school for someone who is an idol blogger. As always hardly any criticism for Crystal. I understand she is your favorite but when reading the comments about her in context with the rest of the review really smells like you went into this with preconceived thoughts. It is time to stop comparing everything to the ghosts of Idols past and enjoy these people for what they are. I am glad you managed to leave out Allion Iraheta’s name from this review. I’ve always loved and enjoyed your commentary on Idol but if all I’m feeling is unabashed cynicism from you then why should I continue to watch the show and in turn read your columns?

    • KW

      AK, I agree In Slezak’s mind Crystal can do no wrong. I’m not saying she’s not talented but I saw her in Hershey and she was probably singing as loud as Lee and I was not that impressed!

      • Suzanne

        MS has his favorites.

      • Michelle

        I am glad to see that people are calling out Slezak’s over the top love for Crystal. And quite frankly, I find Lee’s aw shucks attitude refreshing. If you cannot remain objective, Michael, you need to find a different career. Your bias showed last year with Danny and now with Lee.

      • Vicky

        That was exactly what I was thinking. He was like that with Danny. Now he is trying to lower Lee too like he did Danny.

    • Lauren Foskin

      I COULD NOT AGREE more with AK’s comment!!! He shouldnt just bring the whole amazing comments on Crystal just because she was your favorites!…Im sorry but i did not like this review at all….All of the top 10 are who they are and you should respect them for that! They are all their unique artist in their own amazing way! Stop comparing other seasons and people towards them! Its not right!

      • shuki

        Dito.

      • shuki

        I’ve been spelling ditto with only one “t” (facepalm). Anyway, my own bias for Siobhan is probably getting in the way. Crystal is great, but from this review you would think the rest don’t deserve to be there (most of them do).

      • frank

        Exacctly,if MS can’t be objective, he shouldn’t be writing this kind of stuff. Its obvious he went in with the pre-conceived notion that only Crystal will perform well and didnt even bother to listen to the others.Very bad!!

      • whatever

        It was no shocker that Crystal did not win. Not everyone likes country music.

    • BK

      I’m with you – maybe partially. I never think Crystal is that good as bunch of ‘pundits(self-claimed)’ say. Crystal is talented, i admit it, but is she so good among singers of her style??? She’s very often screeching because of sharpness of her voice, and also often out of tune (as Lee) – though people want to overlook. I dare say, she should learn more to control her voice.

    • Lunakit

      Yeesh! getting a hate on for MS, are we? Since when does a blog need to be ‘objective?’ It is one writer’s opinion and I love him for it (whether I agree or not.) Please don’t squash this man. He makes sense of the AI universe and I need him intact for the post Cowell world.

  • DaisyKary

    I have no desire to shell out my hard earned money on this mediocrity. Season 8 forever!!!
    ANOOP DESAI!!!!!

    • Cindy

      Love Anoop!

      • Taylor

        Season 8 was fun. Kris, Adam, Allison, Matt, and Anoop are all very talented and so different. Very cool.

      • whatever

        Adam,Anoop and Danny were great. Kris,Allison and Matt were very boring and close minded. They had no variety.

    • Jess

      I agree. Anoop is someone who would be great in smaller venues and who I would definitely like to see live. I enjoyed his first album. Ditto Jason Castro.

  • Deana

    I definitely agree with your assessment of Lee. I don’t know why he had to shout the Hallelujah song. The way Jason Castro did the song in Season 7 was very emotive and beautiful, and I was kinda shocked at all the yelling from Lee. :/

    • marko

      But actually Jason did nothing new nor nothing original as to Hallelujah. He was just copying/imitating Jeff Buckley’s version, it was a sort of beautiful karaoke. IMHO, it’s not good for Jason that his fans keep making him stick it. At least Lee’s version is original, even if you prefer tons of covers of Buckley’s or requiem type. Plus, Lee is not yelling but ‘wailing’.

      • still here

        Didn’t Simon say Lee’s version is the Leonard Cohen version? How is that original?

      • anonymous

        Lee’s version is very different than Leonard Cohen’s version, and you would know that if you had ever heard it.

      • bobsaccamanna

        yeah it is different,,Lee’s version sucks.that;s what makes it different

      • CraigJ

        Actually, Simon had Lee sing the same version of Hallelujah as Alexandra Burke had already performed on Season 5 of The X-Factor. The performance is available on youtube if you are interested. Simon owns the rights to all the versions of the song btw.

  • Orihara Kaoru

    Can someone link me to last year’s S8 tour review? I feel like reading it again. :D

    • well

      Last year was one of the most boring seasons ever!!! Anoop,Adam,Danny and Lil Rounds were the only amazing performers. I completely died from boredom watching the others and I was pissed off at how early Anoop got eliminated. What were the judges on when they decided to save Matt?

  • Minnie

    I don’t understand why Casey “needing” to be in a band is a bad thing. I don’t think he ever wanted to be a solo act but AI was a way to make progress on his music career. I don’t necessarily think it has to be a negative. Not everyone’s style is set up for a solo career. That strategy has worked out OK for Chris Daughtry!

    • WTF?

      In the Idolsphere, “would do better fronting a band” seems a way to sort of minimize someone. Since the whole point of American Idol is (or WAS anyway) to find a singular star, fronting a band is considered a step down. Slezak has never really liked Casey, so he undercuts him and other Idols by qualifying any positivity with a barb. Nothing new.

  • pitchy

    I’m getting tired of your treatment of Casey James. First, no Idolatry interview and now downplaying his vocals? He’s a much better singer than Bo Bice and certainy better than Lee — he has a great voice that comes across equally well in rock, blues and country. He’s more than just a great guitarist — but it was nice you had to at least admit that he can play!

    • todd

      I like his voice a lot, too.

    • Flyer

      Slezak has mentioned numerous times that the only reason there was no Idolatry interview with Casey James was because of a timing issue on Casey’s end. Slezak said he still hopes to do the interview whenever it becomes possible for Casey to do it. If nothing else, I’m sure Casey will call up Slezak when Casey needs something, like a promo push for an album.

      • Suzanne

        I don’t think we’ll get the season post mortem with Casey like we have with everyone else, which is a bummer. I’d still like to know what he was thinking each week.

      • catwoman

        Well, I do believe Casey has been in the NYC vicinity on several occasions since the season ended. Seems mighty strange that he hasn’t been interviewed yet. He’s done plenty of press so I doubt that it’s hesitation on his part. Even Danny Gokey got his say way before this during S8, didn’t he? Used to love Slezak, now not so much.

      • Saphron

        Check it out – somehow Slezak couldn’t figure out a time to meet up with Casey right after the show, even though it’s never been a problem for anyone else before. He tweeted that he would interview him when he went to a concert. Yesterday he tweeted that there would be no Casey interview again because ALL of EW’s cameramen were at Comic-Con. (Do I remember him recording his own video with Kris last year on a tour stop? Maybe with his digital camera or something?) Anyway, he’s not ever going to interview Casey and that’s the point. I can’t fathom why he hates him so much. You’d think Casey had done something to him personally.

      • chris

        I dont think Casey should even bother himself with the Slezak guy.There are more important people out there ready to interview him.Who is MS??Doesn’t count i think!!

      • Lunakit

        Michael Slezak, can you respond to this please? Legit questions are being asked. Saphron makes a good point about not having a cameraman. Is that just an excuse? Please let us know why!

      • well

        Maybe Casey just does not like Slezak. Some of the contestants read what writers say about them.

    • Peter

      Ummm hell no to Casey being a better singer than Bo. I like Casey, but he can’t sustain notes for very long and has horrible vibrato. I would much rather hear him play guitar.

      • well

        Casey rocks! He has a great voice!

    • Suzanne

      Casey is not a better singer than Bo. (I wish I liked what Bo was singing these days.). Casey is an outstanding musician and a pretty good singer. I actually do think that he needs a band and should share lead vocals with someone, like Barenaked Ladies does. Matt G is not a bad choice for that, but he doesn’t seem country and that’s where Casey is working on a deal. Bo and Casey is a bad match.

    • Tatar69x

      The thing to me for concerts is not the quest for a pure artiste of impeccable vocals (especially when they all start sounding the same) – I want someone interesting, entertaining, visually appealing, with style, and charisma.

      Someone who connects and makes for a fun concert segment. Really good singing is a plus, but real life concerts and promotion sets and video is sure not “just the singing! Only the singing matters!”

      To me, S9 was just 2 singers who filled my bill – Casey James and Siobhan Magnus. Both undercut by judges.
      After seeing the others on U-tube, I’m happy to add Aaron Kelly as a good bet for pleasing future concerts. And Lee, an introvert, is steadily improving.

      No dig on Bowersox, but her music and stage style is not for me. And I know Big Mike is a good singer, but I hit mute on him some Idol shows, and you couldn’t pay me to sit through an hour concert of Mike and his girly falsetto.

    • Don

      Casey is in no way as good a singer as Lee.

      Fail.

      • twin

        Casey is far better in my opinion!

  • lori

    I miss Michael Lynche! Yum!

    • jaded

      Good Lord, that’s a joke right???

      • oh come on

        You guys suck! Stop talking crap about Michael Lynche!

    • conservative blond

      Me too!

    • Lulu

      As do I!

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